All posts by Mr Hari Covert

I am a passionate foodie, former chef and also ex hotel & restaurant inspector. I have been immersed in food for over forty years so its been a lifetimes work...

Anno Dinner – a right Royal report…

Well it had been a few months of planning this pop up once again at the rather special venue of Anno Distillers in Marden. The event we held in 2015 was a smaller affair and this time we decided to make it bigger and a little more special with the addition of another chef along with yours truly.

So on a couple of chilly October evenings we found ourselves humping equipment into the well-guarded lock up of Anno’s just off Pattenden Lane in the industrial heart of Marden!

We were joined by former royal chef Visen Anenden who hails from Mauritus but has a veritable who’s who of a culinary background. He trained with Michel Roux at Le Gavroche, spent some time working on events for Anthony Worral Thomson and then spent just on ten years working as the personal chef to HRH Prince of Wales.

He has recently had his own pub in south London (The Duchy Arms) and then also recently been cooking for the likes of Simon Cowell and the business magnate George Soros.

Visen arrived mid-morning on the Thursday and we then spent the rest of that day prepping the dishes ready for the first night on the Friday. I like to do two nights back to back as it means we can maximise not only the menu offered and the numbers we can serve it makes the whole process a lot easier with the “Mise en place” required.

It was a mountain to climb – three whole huge Pork Belly’s, had to be boned, rolled  and then poached in a flavoursome stock, fillets of fresh salmon required curing with sea salt, sugar, spices and a generous dousing of Anno’s Elderflower vodka whilst yours truly had already made a homemade Membrillo laced with the Anno’s Sloe Gin as well as a Jelly to go with the homemade “Duck Rillettes” made from confit duck legs.

It was a challenging dinner as there were firstly five courses to prepare and serve and we had no cooking facilities whatsoever- so we had to make sure the menu reflected this and was able to be done under such conditions. Every piece of crockery, cutlery and glassware was transported to the venue…

One guest was in awe of our achievements with one plug in oven, an electric hob, one induction ring and then a small deep fat fryer! We were not allowed gas or naked flames (e.g. candles) as this is rightly a risk with so much alcoholic spirit kicking around!

So Friday was a full house with 24 guests firstly partaking of a welcome G&T in the balcony office area as they munched their way through some nibbles, a Pan Catalan, cauliflower soup shot and deep fried chick pea fritters. (Saturday we served the same but a freshly made carrot and orange soup instead of cauliflower)

As guests  sat at one long trestle table conversations flowed – new friendships were formed and both of the Anno founders gave a short precis history talk of the origins of their little enterprise each night and how they came about producing a truly artisan product.

The main course was as stated the slow cooked Pork Belly that we had poached for three hours in a stock and then placed on a tray and pressed flat overnight to compact the meat. The sauce served was a mix of the stock with roasted pork bones with white wine and fresh spices including finally a big bunch of fresh fenugreek infused in the reduced sauce! All this was served with a king oyster mushroom plus some freshly sautéed Enoki mushrooms. A braised halved little gem lettuce was for one guest a revelation. Some pork crackling that had been dehydrated for twenty four hours and then deep fried to make it all go puffy was the garnish along with a pressed potato and black pudding cake that was layered thinly sliced potatoes and black pudding infused with butter and duck fat completed the dish.

We served the cheeses in the French fashion after the main and these constituted of the local Winterdale Shaw and then tangy and much enjoyed Stichleton (Like a Stilton but made with raw milk)

Dessert was also a big hit, a savarin (yeast raised brioche dough sponge) was cooked off and then left to absorb a sugar syrup jus laced with Anno’s latest 60 percent proof Gin. A half-pound packet of butter (each night) was left to brown in a pan before being strained and added to some Crème Chantilly (sweetened cream) laced with vanilla. This all served with fresh local raspberries from the suppliers to M&S and Waitrose located on Seven Mile Lane by West Peckham completed the meal.

The dining space next to their still known as Patience was cavernous and whilst guests were asked to make sure they had plenty of layers on to keep warm, the final flourish of a hot coffee was served with homemade chocolate truffles that showcased their final artisan product. The dried cranberries had been marinated in Anno’s Cranberry Gin for a couple of days before being added to the chocolate ganache.

It had been a great couple of nights and the comments we had in our guest book were nothing but complimentary … thanks once again to both Norman and Andy for their support and allowing us to use such a special venue. Plus my thanks to Visen for agreeing to join me on this event. We are always on the hunt for something new and different and we will hopefully have some new venues to use in 2017 – please watch this space!

Do check out Anno Distillers and try their products they are very special indeed and I know we have converted many to them… just watching the guests go home laden with their purchases on the night was something to behold… I do hope none were stopped by the local constabulary on their way!

The Itch Dinner… 7 years and counting…

Well what started out as a bit of fun and a way to show how valuable social media advertising and engagement can be we are soon to be marking a bit of a milestone.

We hope we have not been irritating or contagious but believe it or not we have now come November 2016  been doing pop ups for seven years – hence the itch!

We felt a monthly dinner in our secret location would be a great way to demonstrate how we could build a following and develop an idea . So what better way to celebrate at our November dinners than with a special 7-Course tasting menu of dishes we love and we hope you too will savour.

The idea will be to serve this menu of tasting sized portions of some of our favourite dishes. We have developed the concept over the years and we think we have done a range of dinners in some pretty unusual locations as well! In the cellar of the cheese makers at Winterdale Shaw plus the top of Yalding Church roof and even in the private home of Dame Kelly Holmes.

We will kick the evening off with a dish we did some five years ago that we named “A taste of Catalonia” – Roasted Red Peppers  served with Marinated Anchovies and a slice of toasted Ciabatta.

Following this we will serve a freshly made risotto with roasted butternut  squash topped with crumbled goats cheese and toasted Kent cob nuts

Next we will serve a pan fried fillet of sea bass that will be served with a delicate ginger cream sauce. A flavour combination inspired by my friendship with chef But for over 40 years.

The main course will feature some beautiful Kentish Lamb Shoulder that we will slow cook as little individual hot pots and serve with some green beans. These we will garnish with a slice of crispy air dried ham and maybe another little surprise as well.

We then normally always serve our cheese following the main course in the French fashion and on this occasion we will serve our stalwart favourite Winterdale Shaw… the carbon neutral Cheddar from the top of Wrotham Hill.  Our now infamous Porridge Oat Biscuits and some homemade chutney as well.

We will then serve two desserts… firstly a firm favourite with Mrs HC is the Lemon Posset which we will serve with a Raspberry Compote topping and a warm butter shortbread.

Finally the “Damian Allsop”  Water Chocolate Mousse which we hope to serve with a tasting glass of vintage Maury a luscious sweet red wine from the region where we had our holiday home until this summer.

So seven courses to mark seven years of covert dining!

Dates: Friday 25th  & Saturday 26th November 2016

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £45 per person (service not included)

The Itch Dinner

Taste of Catalonia – Anchovy & Roasted Red Peppers


Butternut Squash Risotto, Goats Cheese & Toasted Cob Nuts


Pan Fried Sea Bass with a Ginger Cream Sauce


Kentish Shoulder of Lamb Hot Pot, Green Beans, Bacon Crisp


Winterdale Shaw, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Chutney


Lemon Posset, Raspberry Compote, Butter Shortbread


“Damian Allsop” Water Chocolate Mousse


Coffee or Tea

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability 

Slope Off Friday…at Hari’s

Jules Serkin

We are excited to be hosting a special networking luncheon for Kent Businesses – this is the brainchild of Jules Serkin and Andrew Knott who arrange a monthly “Slope Off Friday” at a new venue each month.

Hari’s “Pop Up” is the November venue on Friday November 4th from 2pm (prompt) onward.  We have put together a simple three course lunch menu that will be served to just 14 guests who wish to do a bit of networking in a relaxed and fun way and kick their weekend off with a bang!

Beer Bread

The menu we have devised is as follows and it is competitively priced at £16.50 per person – Water will be provided but you will need to bring your own alcoholic drinks. (Glasses Provided)

Booking can only be made through our dedicated booking page with its “Covert Link”  and if you wish to attend this lunch you will need to request the link via the form below.

Homemade Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash Soup served with Hari’s Own Beer Bread


Mushrooms on Toast


Slow Cooked Pork Goulash served with Rice & Vegetables


Oven Baked Sea Bass Fillet served with crushed New Potatoes & Vegetables with a herb beurre blanc


Homemade Apple Crumble with Taywell Ice Cream


Winterdale Shaw Cheddar with Homemade Porridge Oat Crackers & Banana Jam

Coffee or Tea Included

Space is limited so please make sure you book early.

Menu Subject to market purchases and ingredient availability.

Please complete the following details and we will then send you a link to book your place.


Our daily bread…

Well it has been a summer of mixed emotions for us… we have loved watching the Olympics and the herculean efforts of all our athletes who have given it their all. The nail biting gold medal fight with Andy Murray to the dying second loss of a gold medal for the Taekwondo guy!

We have also after 16 years just sold our French home in the village of Rivesaltes. It was with some sadness we spent our last summer holiday in the “maison” but we will return to the area as we love it so much.

One thing I managed to do this time was something of a long term desire and ambition to work in a genuine French bakery and make the bread!

Well I have to thank Patrick Aiguaviva for the patience and opportunity to do this as he and his family took over the old bakery called La Muscaline on the Place General de Gaulle in the village and following a redecoration re opened it as “Pain de Place” The already own and run the bar opposite so they are slowly dominating the commercial enterprises of square.

Patrick was a little surprised I wanted to get up at an ungodly hour whilst on holiday to make bread with him but he patiently agreed and I duly turned up on a warm sticky Saturday morning at 5:30m

Patrick has a culinary background of working on cruise ships so is use to production on a large scale but running a bakery is a challenge. He makes the dough up the day before using his assorted flours but what intrigued me was the recipe he uses also used some sour dough from the previous day’s dough as a starter in the dough and allows it to prove very slowly. This creates to a good tasting bread.

He does very little hand formation of the dough as he is lucky to have an ancient large rolling machine that rolled the dough into the assorted sized breads. From the traditional baguette, to a thinner smaller ficelle or the “ancienne style” baguette with their pointed ends.

Each batch was placed onto ready prepared cloth covered trays that were then wheeled into the proving cupboard where the dough was held at about 12 degrees centigrade overnight before being got out ready to be placed into the large bakery oven the next morning.

Even loading up the oven was semi-automated with a belt tray that pushed the baguettes into the oven direct onto the oven floor.
Patrick was so well organised with certain functions all geared to make his life easier so that he could bake the required number of baguettes to service the shop and a few of his local contracts. Small bread rolls for the school canteen to some Pizza dough ready for a regular client.

Within no more than 3 hours we had baked the lot as one lot went into the oven and about 12 minutes later came out. It was fascinating to learn the slashes on the top of the baguette or the Boules (round loaf) and the Epis baguettes are all traditional processes and very much the signature of each bakery and their bakers.
I had a go and found it a lot of harder than he made it look and was painfully slower. Practice will make it easier and quicker.

Viennoiserie or “morning goods” of Croissants. Pain au Chocolat and Pains aux Raisin are all bought in frozen and baked off in another oven upstairs (it was cavernous behind the scenes) This is not uncommon in French bakeries these days as it is a time consuming and highly skilled job and not really cost effective for a single man operation!

Patrick also makes large Palmiers Biscuits which he explained were traditionally made from the left over puff pastry dough that were then dredged in sugar and rolled to make the ear shaped crisp sugary pastry much loved with a grand café crème

I shot off with some warm baguettes for breakfast and then popped back a couple of hours later to roll out the next days required bread from a large batch of dough he had already made up.

It was fascinating to see and struck me the amount of effort that goes into that ninety cent baguette is certainly something to cherish and respect. The passion bakers have along with their skills is worthy of our support and our custom!

The locals of Rivesaltes are spoilt for choice and seem to appreciate the differences of each bakery. We had five bakeries all within a five minute walk and now having seen behind the scenes of our nearest I am in awe of what they all achieve but will remain loyal to Patrick’s prowess. It was a very fitting end to our holiday and a memory I shall cherish… a bit like our daily bread!

For the love of Gin… a right royal appointment…

For our October dinners we are going to be popping up once again in the village of Marden.… we can now reveal once again we will be hosting two dinners in the Anno Distillers distillery with those lovely chaps Andy & Norman

Anno Distillers Artisan Drinks
Anno Distillers Artisan Drinks

This time however I will be joined by a fellow chef and new supper club host who is in the process of setting up his own pop ups.

Chef Visen Anenden will be joining us to cook a few courses alongside yours truly. Visen is an accomplished chef who trained with the Roux family at Le Gavroche and then worked on events for celebrity chef Anthony Worral Thompson.

He has most recently however been the personal chef to HRH The Prince of Wales household where for nearly ten years he worked in the assorted homes of the Prince and travelled with him on assorted foreign trips.

We have tried to ensure the dishes we are preparing highlight not only the handiwork of those clever guys at Anno but local produce and we hope a few stories peppered into the evening of both Visen’s and Hari’s experiences.

There will be just twenty two spaces available each night for this rather unique and exclusive event and we will have either Andy or Norman on hand each night to provide an insight into the workings of their still and the fruits of their labours.

So onto the menu… we will kick the evening off with assorted welcome nibbles served with a welcome Gin & Tonic whilst you will get an introduction and tour from the makers into how they make their Gins and Vodka.

First course prepared by Hari will be an unctuous Duck Rillettes served with a jelly made from Anno’s Sloe Gin.

Visen will then serve cured salmon that will have been cured using Anno’s Elderflower Vodka and a classic beetroot and horseradish garnish.

Chef Visen will then be in charge of the main course where he will be serving up a Pork inspired dish of the belly and a cake of black pudding.  I am intrigued by his mushroom, lettuce – fenugreek sauce – his love of spices must be part of his Mauritian heritage.

Hari will be picking the cheeses and sticking local with Winterdale

Winterdale Shaw
Winterdale Shaw

Shaw unpasteurised Cheddar and then a Kentish Blue from Staplehurst.

To complete the meal Visen will be in charge again and his dessert will be an Anno Gin soaked sponge, raspberry, and burnt-butter-vanilla cream, all served with a glass of sweet wine.

Dates: Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd October 2016

Venue: Anno Distillers Marden

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £50 per person (service not included)


Nibbles with an Anno Gin & Tonic


Duck Rillettes with Green Peppercorns & Sloe Gin Jelly,

Sour Dough Toast


Salmon cured in elderflower vodka, chickpea blini, pickled beetroot and horseradish


Pork belly, pressed potato-black pudding “cake”, mushroom and lettuce-fenugreek sauce


Winterdale Shaw Cheddar & Kentish Blue with Banana Jam & Porridge Oat Biscuits


Gin soaked sponge, raspberry, and burnt-butter-vanilla cream + small shot glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes


Coffee & Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

To book your places please complete the following form and we will contact you within 24/48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number

Summers passing… our September events…

We thought with summer now becoming a distant memory our menu would reflect the change of seasons.  We felt it should perhaps include some of the bountiful produce still available and represent the seasons.

mackFollowing a welcome drink and assorted nibbles we felt to kick the meal off we would start with a dish inspired with Mackerel and gooseberries – a combination made in heaven as the fruit cuts wonderfully with the oiliness of the gooseberriesfish.

The main course will be a slow cooked shoulder of lamb with a Moroccan influenced spicing served with Cous  Cous and a bean salad dressed in a yogurt and mint dressing

This will be followed by our selection of cheeses served with the porridge oat biscuits that take some three days to make… then finally for dessert a fresh plum and almond cake served with mascarpone.plums

This will then be served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes specially imported from our french home.

Dates: Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th September 2016

Time: 7:30pm welcome drink 8:00pm Dinner served

Suggested Donation:  £35.00 per  person (service not included)


Mackerel & Gooseberries – our interpretation


Spicy Moroccan Lamb Shoulder served with a herb Cous Cous

Green Bean Salad with a yogurt & mint dressing


Hari’s selection of cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

& Homemade Banana Jam


Plum & Almond Cake served with mascarpone cream


Coffee or Tea served with petit fours



To book your places please complete the following form and we will contact you within 24/48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number

Summer is here…Phew

summer holsWell it has been a very hectic month for us with some charity gigs and then a plethora of private functions… We are just about to complete our last one before heading off to France for our annual break. It will be twinned with sadness as we have now sold our French home so it will be the last time we will be staying there!

We have lots already planned for the Autumn season and we will soon be taking bookings for our September & October dates… So do watch this space where we will be publishing full details in the next couple of weeks.

I hope you all have a great summer holiday and come back rested and refreshed! We will!


Hari Covert


Dinner on a hot lead roof…

roofWe did say never again but well our arm was twisted and it is all in a good cause!

We are hosting another dinner on the roof of Yalding Church… in fact we are inviting 20 couples to come along for a Paella themed supper and on the night there will be a further prize draw and three couple will be invited to partake of their dinner on the roof!yc2

To be able to partake of this event we are requiring you enter our prize draw by heading over to our fundraising page here

For every £1 donation your name will be placed in the virtual hat one time. So a £5 donation will mean it will be there five times… and so on

YCPS_logo_colIt will be a fun night and the whole raison d’etre is to help this charity raise much needed funds to continue its support of the upkeep of the fabric of this building and hub of the village community.

Just remember it could be dinner on a “hot lead roof” with a great view and some fascinating company so just get donating!

Flaming June…

Well with the weather warming up we are thinking about our June events and the menu we are going to produce. We have decided to reprieve some of our favourites and we hope you will like them…

We will serve a selection of seasonal nibbles to kick the evening off along with a suitable summery drink. We will then as the first course serve a South American inspired starter of a “Ceviche” a mix of smoked haddock and raw prawns that are marinated for a few hours in a citric marinade and then served shaped like a tartare with a celeriac remoulade (dressed in a mustard mayonnaise)

Main course will be a roasted fillet of beef served with a mixed wild mushroom sauce a rosti potato cake and our veritable “haricots verts” (green beans).

For our cheese course we will make it a selection of suitable cheeses served with our infamous Porridge Oat Biscuits and home-made Banana Jam.

To complete the meal we will serve Damian Allsops “Water” Chocolate Mousse. A really light and flavoursome chocolate mousse that allows the true flavour of the chocolate to shine through as it contains no cream!. Some local summer berries and also serve up a cold pressed iced coffee to help wash it all down.

It will hopefully be a warm and sultry night and we look forward to welcoming old and new guests to our secret venue (well to the newbies at least)

To Book please complete the booking form below and we will contact you normally with 24/48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number.

Dates: Friday 10th & Saturday 11th June 2016

Time:  19:30 Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 20:00 Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £40.00 Per Person (Service Not Included) 


Ceviche of Smoked Haddock & Prawn with Celeriac Remoulade, served with corn bread 


Roasted Fillet of Beef served with a Wild Mushroom & Cognac Sauce, Crispy Rosti Potato Cake, Haricots Verts


Hari’s Selection of Cheeses served with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam


Damian Allsops “Water” Chocolate Mousse, Summer Berries & Cold Pressed Coffee Milkshake


Coffee & Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availabilty

Tapas, Meze, Light Bites… little morsels of loveliness

I have always enjoyed the idea of small plates of food that you can share so that you can sample what a kitchen has to offer and also a great way to share a meal. I have recently sampled a few meals like this in the last month or so. Firstly on a recent hook up with world renowned chocolatier Damian Allsop in Girona Spain we sampled some beautiful tapas in a back street establishment called Restaurant Curcuma. It was right in the city centre and had a modern simple decor but some great tasty and innovative tapas.

Cod with Sobrassada Sausage
Turmeric scented Croquetas

Highlight for me were the turmeric (the name of the restaurant) scented croquetas, crispy cased and soft unctuous centres and some steamed cod topped with roasted onions, honey and Sobrassada sausage. Innovative flavours simply presented and reasonably priced.

Then more recently we found ourselves back in the town of Whitstable at one our favourites – the infamous and highly popular Jo Jo’s Restaurant where they specialise in Mediterranean meze, – large sharing boards of assorted well sourced cold meats, cheese and small bowls of Hummus, Tzatziki etc as well as small plates of other ever changing specials and regular favourites. The cod or haddock goujons in a beer batter highlight the fresh fish that are ever so popular.

Crispy Pigs Ears...
Crispy Pigs Ears…

I also quietly ordered one of the blackboard specials of  the day… Crispy Pigs Ears with a Remoulade sauce. This was a very generous portion of crispy crumb coated slivers of porcine goodness that were to put it mildly rapidly devoured by even the youngest of our party ( a 4 year old) with gusto.

All that sharing ensured a very respectable and celebratory lunch was had by all.

Then most recently I was invited to a restaurant in the centre of Canterbury that was not on my radar or I had any idea of its existence. I was joining a friend who had been invited for a lunch at Deesons Restaurant where head chef Ross Barden was keen for us to try their newly launched “British Tapas” dishes in this quintessentially modern British restaurant.

The tapas idea here was both innovative and at time quite unexpected and as a whole worked well with some good skilful thought out dishes but then some not so well executed ones.

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We actually sampled the entire menu and were generally impressed but did feel the kitchen was trying just a shade too hard. Dishes that worked really well and were outstanding were a twice baked “Old Winchester” cheese soufflé with a carrot pureé that needed a little more seasoning and sweetness to cut against the savoury nature of the cheese. The Confit hen’s yolk with buttered leeks and crispy chicken skin soldiers was inspired. The Crispy Haggis with a poached egg and parsnip crisps was also flavoursome but technically the haggis was a tad dry from over frying/baking so needed the soft egg to add liquid!

Cider Braised Beef Shin with apple juice and ginger with mash and cabbage was a wonderful unctuous dish but again lacked in seasoning. The Spring Greens with wholegrain mustard worked beautifully as did the charred broccoli with cheese sauce and flaked almonds whilst  smoked mash potato was less popular than the the plain one – it did need more butter, cream and salt.

In fact the seasoning overall throughout the meal did raise the question did “Chef” smoke as a lot of the dishes seemed under seasoned. This is a common situation in many a kitchen and for me something that was drummed into me in my formative years how important it is to season the food correctly and also taste it.

We also sampled a couple of croquette style dishes that when compared to a “Spanish croquetas” sadly missed the mark. The Smoked Cod Kedgeree was a good idea but the large cake like croquette was just to big and clumsy, a good livid coloured curry mayonnaise was much needed to moisten it.

The Pork and Potato Croquette served with an an apple butter was also oversized and would have been better smaller and perhaps served as a threesome. The apple butter on the tapas version did not pack the same punch that it did when served with the a la carte main course of Pork Tenderloin along with Black Pudding crumb and candied walnuts and a cider jus (to die for)

So overall this was a highly enjoyable delve into how we can equally compete with our continental partners and it can well showcase our own culinary heritage.

Deeson’s is a a little gem and I look forward to a return visit as I think if Chef Ross can sort out the issues we encountered he will be a place to watch in amongst the plethora of those  uninspiring tourist eating establishments of Canterbury.

Deeson’s British Restaurant
25-26 Sun Street